7 Apr 2010

Hopes fade for coal mine survivors

4:13 pm on 7 April 2010

Hopes of finding survivors in the worst United States mining disaster in 26 years are fading as rescuers pull back, fearing another explosion.

Twenty-five miners are now known to have died and four are missing after an underground blast in the Upper Big Branch coal mine near Charleston in West Virginia on Monday.

Rescuers say rising methane gas levels have heightened the risk of another blast.

West Virginia governor Joe Manchin says the rescue operation will resume when conditions improve.

Rescue crews are reported to be digging a road above the mine to get to a spot where they can drill holes to ventilate the toxic air underground.